The Perfect Pour Over

What is pour-over coffee, anyway?  It involves hand-pouring hot water into a carafe or mug through a filter full of coffee grounds.  The goal is for the flow of water to extract the coffee’s fragrances and oils, accentuating subtler flavors.  So how do you achieve that goal?

What You Need

All you need is some beans, a coffee grinder, a coffee dripper or brewing device, filters, a kettle, and water.  For beans, the pour-over method is designed to highlight subtle flavors, making it most complementary to the bright, acidic beans of a lighter roast.  We recommend our Colombia and Ethiopia for the tastiest pour over.

The dripper will sit on top of your mug or carafe and hold the filter and grounds.  

There are differing opinions as to the best filters.  Heavier filters like Chemex are designed to retain more of the coffee’s suspended oils.  Some pour-over connoisseurs like to rinse the filter before use or use cloth filters to avoid the coffee acquiring a papery taste.  No matter which filters you choose, be sure they’re the right size for your brewing device.  Crumpled filters catch coffee grounds and break up water flow, leading to uneven coffee extraction.  

Your water heater can be electric, stove top, or solar powered but should be designed to maintain a stable temperature and have a gooseneck.  This thinner spout prevents the water from coming out in small bursts like it does through shorter spouts, producing an even stream.

It’s best to fill the kettle with filtered water, as tap water can carry minerals or contaminants that can change the coffee’s flavor. 

If you want to be precise about the strength of your blend, you can also use food scales to calibrate the perfect ratio of coffee to water.  A commonly accepted starting point is 17 grams of water for every gram of coffee.

How It’s Done

The first step is to grind the beans to the desired size.  You want the grounds to be large enough for the water to extract the coffee before filtering through, but not so large that it under-extracts, creating a bitter brew.  A good rule of thumb is to start with a medium grind and adjust from there.  If you end up with a watery or sour coffee, try a finer grind; if you get an overly bitter cup, go coarser.  Most importantly, you need an even grind size for an even extraction.

Next, you need to know how to pour. There are several popular methods.  Blooming is designed to release carbon dioxide buildup from the roasting process.  This is important because carbon dioxide repels water, preventing even extraction.  This is especially important for lighter roasts and fresh coffee, which capture more gas.  To get this release, pour water in twice the mass of the coffee over the grounds and then wait 30-45 seconds for the grounds to settle.  The “bloom” is a quick bubbling of water that follows this pour.

Pulse pouring comprises multiple pours of uniform or differing amounts of water.  The goal is to prevent channeling and grounds floating up to the side of the filter.  (Channeling is when, due to uneven distribution of grounds, the water trickles around clumps of coffee, leaving some unextracted.)  Through repeated disruption of the grinds, it also creates more even contact with the water.

Continuous pouring is the most straightforward method.  It involves pouring at a steady, constant rate with the aim of uniform saturation.

In agitation, you swirl or stir the brew to break up dry clusters of coffee and dislodge any grounds left at the top of the filter.  This makes sure no grounds are left unsaturated.  

We hope this motivates you to start creating the perfect pour-over.  Remember that the key to a steady-handed pour is lots of practice!  We swear we won’t blame you if you order a little extra Ethiopia or Columbia this month to experiment ;)